Friday, February 10, 2017

Why I'm not a journalist

I studied journalism in college. I enjoyed it. I can say sincerely and without ego that I was good at it but there is a reason I am not a journalist. Aside from the industry slipping further and further down the commode daily, my will to survive was too strong to honestly pursue this line of work. I had this weird problem where I was willing to work hard, VERY hard, but not if it meant I couldn't afford to eat or have any free time at all.

Journalism is largely a thankless, payless job. You work for hours and hours, mostly writing things you don't want to write about, and even when you get to write what you like, your editor shits all over it, often without telling you. You only find out when you get the item in print and it's NOT what you wrote. When I graduated from college, I tried getting a job with the AJC. SPOILER ALERT: I didn't.

They wanted 5-10 years of journalism experience, willingness to work 60 hours a week regularly, and exclusive use of my talents. Wanna take a stab at the salary? $18,000/year. That's it. For 60 hours a week, no ability to freelance, no vacation, no real days off.

I was not, I AM not, willing to do that for 60 hours a week and still need a second job to survive. I was not, I AM not willing to work myself to death for journalism or any career. This is not a crime.

People may accuse me of "laziness" or being "unwilling to put in the work," but I don't think that it's unreasonable to choose eating and electricity over killing yourself for 20-30 years in hopes that you might one day be able to make a survival-level salary. That is simply too much to ask of people. What good is it to get your dream job if you drop dead 5 years into it due to the decades of abuse you put yourself through to get there?

...and yet, it is what you hear all the time, passed off as something that is totally acceptable.

"If you REALLY want to succeed, you have to be willing to put work above everything. You need to want success the way you'd want air if you were suffocating or else you'll never succeed. If you're not willing to work 80 hours a week, you don't deserve to do what you love."

I can't be the only one that sees a major issue with this. What does it say about our culture that we have to completely neglect ourselves to be worthy of even moderate financial success?

It ties in perfectly with society's academic, neoliberal, postmodern agenda of ignoring the material world in favor of the theoretical one. "Don't worry about your physical health, your rent, your family, your pets, people who depend on you....if you really want to BE what you want to BE, you have to forget that material reality exists!"

Welp, sorry, Professor Boellschitt who is getting paid by a university to take a four-year sabbatical to fuck around doing nothing under the guise of "researching" some inane garbage that means nothing to the real world, the rest of us down here on planet Earth have bills to pay!

The other problem is this attitude trickles down. So, okay, I'm not willing to work that hard, even for a job I'd like. I can still make a living doing other things I'm not crazy about. What about those folks who can't? For people who work at KFC or McDonald's or who wait tables, they are usually only allowed to work up to 40 hours a week. They can work and work and work and NEVER get to a decent job, never get a promotion, never get a raise, let alone land their dream job. Still, we buy this bullshit narrative of, "Well, if they really wanted to succeed, they'd work harder!"

Please, do tell me, how can someone possibly WORK HARDER when they're already stretched to the limit? When their boss plain won't give them more hours? When their company just plain isn't hiring? When their company does give them overtime, but it's all the time and just plain doesn't give them time off to pursue what they'd really like to do? When they have families to feed that rely on them working two or three jobs and they have no free time to pursue what they'd really like?

I used to believe this bullshit narrative. America brainwashes it into us. This culture raises us to believe it. My parents raised me to believe it. They still believe it even as they watch their own lives crumble after working their fingers to the bone for decades. They still get mad at me for not believing it.

The folks telling you to believe it DO NOT believe it. They know damn well it's BULLLLLLSHITTTTTTT! It's to give you false hope. If you know you're never going to do better, you won't try. As President Snow says in The Hunger Games, "Why do you think we have winner? Hope. It's the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous."

This is no secret to the people who REALLY run this shit show we call Earth.

Anyway....our culture is fucked and so are we. That's how we got to where we are. That's also why it's going to get a LOT worse before it gets better. Until we stop chasing the carrot, we'll always be hungry.

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